"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
The accusation that I'm just parroting the historian, Richard Weikart has been made, and that is something I share in common with the late Daniel Gasman, against whom Robert Richards mounted the same dishonest tactic of argument by association*, a subset that falls within the classic definition of the ad hominem fallacy - a term so abused that it has lost much of its meaning largely at the hands of the fan boys of such pop-atheists as Carl Sagan in the last forty years.
Well, I've talked about Richard Weikart the last time that happened and noted that I had used exactly one thing from him, a letter that Darwin sent to Heinrich Fick and that was only because the online Darwin Correspondence site, part of the academic wing of the St. Darwin industry, had, for some reason, failed to post the text of it.**
I have read things by Richard Weikart and find that as long as he doesn't express his opinions about evolutionary science, proper, he's what you'd expect from a prominent academic historian writing for reviewed journals, careful to be able to document and back up what he says in the historical record and in the literature he deals with. But I noted that even that doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to accept what he concludes nor that I'd trust what he says without looking at the documentation he relies on to say it. In the places I've done that about history and the historical record, I haven't caught him in any misrepresentations, something which I have, by the way, found in Darwin twice on rather important issues.
Nothing I have written on the topic has been based on secondary scholarship without checking the primary documents, in so far as those are available. Most of my initial conclusions came from reading a. The Decent of Man and On the Origin of Species, especially the last two editions of it that Darwin, himself, prepared and those scientific and other works that Darwin had cited in his scientific writings b. the correspondence of Charles Darwin, c. the testimony of his closest scientific colleagues, Galton, Haeckel, Huxley, etc. and the testimony of those closest to him, especially his sons Leonard, Francis and George Darwin. I have found that even respectable secondary sources, some of them with valuable clues of what to look at in that primary documentation, are seriously limited due to the ideological or academic side the author is trying to promote. That is especially troubling when the lapses and, at times, blatant dishonesty, fall well within the area in which the credibility of the scholar is supposed to reside.
In endorsing Daniel Gasman's arguments about the relationship of Ernst Haeckel to Nazism, last week, I noted that I disagreed with his desire to distance Haeckel from Charles Darwin, which has the considerable problem of the many, repeated and glowing endorsements of Charles Darwin made to Haeckel, himself, that he was one of the few who really got Darwin's theories and the fact that Darwin repeatedly, till the end of his life, endorsed books and articles in which Haeckel made many of the most obvious proto-Nazi statements as reliable science, even fact, directly attributing those to Charles Darwin and his theories. It is impossible for an honest scholar of Haeckel and his all important relationship with the thinking of Charles Darwin to avoid such things as the early attribution by Haeckel to Darwin of the the triumph of Haeckel's monism, one of the things which has earned him the reputation as a direct precursor of Nazism.
This final triumph of the monistic conception of nature constitutes the highest and most general merit of the Theory of Descent, as reformed by Darwin.
He made that statement early in the book Natürliche schöpfungsgeschichte, which Darwin endorsed, in the strongest possible terms, as reliable science in The Descent of Man, an endorsement that Darwin never mitigated nor retracted in anything I've looked for and I looked hard at the evidence. I never found anywhere in which Darwin disavowed that attribution.
In that, the direct and inseparable relationship of Haeckel and Charles Darwin, oddly, it might seem, I agree with Robert Richards who, of the three, I've been the most critical. I am most critical of Richards because his project is the most blatantly dishonest, the rehabilitation of Ernst Haeckel who was a scientific racist, a proponent of the theory that genocide was necessary and would lead to salubrious results for the surviving murderers, a man who advocated the genocide of entire races, American Indians, Australians, other named ethnicities who he had placed as practically having the same status as animals in his infamous ranking of human groups. He also advocated the murder of those deemed unfit due to their disabilities and illnesses. In virtually every way, Ernst Haeckel advocated what the Nazis did, starting about 14 years after Haeckel's death.
No one who read Ernst Haeckel could honestly come to the view of him advocated by Robert Richards because, as with Darwin, he advocated exactly what he did in books presented as having the reliability of science. I think the post-war academic and journalistic effort to turn Charles Darwin into a figure at odds with his scientific writing is one of the most obviously tawdry frauds in modern intellectual life.
So, to sum up, from what I've read and tested, I would trust Richard Weikart's academic presentation of the relationship of Darwinism to Nazism, I would trust Daniel Gasman's presentation relating Haeckel to Nazism and I would trust Robert Richards' on the close relationship of Darwin and Haeckel. I would not trust any of them on other issues, Weikart on the general facts of evolution having happened and common descent (which, notably, is not within his area of academic expertise). I would not trust Gasman on the issue of Darwin's complete endorsement of Haeckel's interpretation of Darwin's theories, and I would not trust Robert Richards' on the nature of Haeckel's proto-Nazi scientific racism, social Darwinism and homicidal eugenics. I think of the three that Gasman's and Richards' lapses in their academic areas are the most serious.
* Richards' article assumes a malevolent, intemperate style and he chooses his words with intentional malice. There are instances where Ricahrds employs scarcely veiled mockery to get his questionable revisionist ideas across. He juxtaposes my writings together with those of Richard Weikart, even though Weikart and I disagree on almost all basic interpretations of Haeckel, Darwin and evolution and Richards must be well aware of the fact that I certainly do not lump Haeckel and Darwin together, as does Weikart. Richards' attempted synthesis of the two works is an apparent desire to introduce elements of confusion and even derision into the general academic discussion about Haeckel.
** It is curious to me that there are a number of such letters from Darwin, presumably all written in English in that I am unaware of him ever writing in any other language, many of them to Ernst Haeckel, held by the Haeckel Haus at the University of Jena and not needing translation before they can be published in that easy to research and read form. Weikart included the text of the letter in a short article he posted on Darwin promoting some pretty extreme positions of social Darwinism. If the Darwin establishment has found fault with his transmission of that one letter, I'd like to see where.
Maybe the idiots at the company got the really disgusting and stupid idea from watching that really disgusting and stupid show. I don't do American Halloween just like I don't do American Christmas or American Thanksgiving or American anything these days because I don't like holidays that involve buying crap and corporate commercialism and all things excessive. Especially holidays that are based on adding to the caloric load of simple carbohydrates and fat among America's children who are super-saturated with both.
Anyway, dopey is snarking about the repulsive Anne Frank halloween costume that was offered by Halloween Costume.com until the complaints forced them to remove what I hope is the low point of disgusting depravity outside of the Republican-fascist government and its emanations in the American Nazi movement. Apparently he's attributing the costume to Christians, how he knows this, I don't know. I was unable to find that information online and I would match my research skills against his total lack of research skills any day. How does he know it wasn't what it appears to be, the decision of devout, distasteful and not to bright Mammonists.
I do, though, have to ask if the disgusting act of turning Anne Frank into a Halloween Costume is any worse than pop-atheist Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy Holocaust jokes. One episode featured some really disgusting use of Anne Frank, her family and others who were hiding from the Nazis. Maybe the idiots at the company got the really disgusting idea from watching that really disgusting show. One thing we know, it didn't come from anything intelligent and respectful, thus the FOX series that my most obsessive troll loves put out by someone I've called a total piece of slime since I first heard him on the radio with Terry Gross and who has steadily reaffirmed my initial impression of him. Simps hasn't broken with him.
I don't know how Youtubes are playing on the computer of anyone else but the past day commercials have been getting through my ad blocker, if you're getting commercials, I apologize but it's not my fault.
I may have to rethink posting Youtubes if they are going to carry commercials. Some of the ones I've gotten are really awful.
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man NATURAL SELECTION. KILL all retards, people w/ brain fuck ups, drug adics, people cant figure out to use a fucking lighter. GEEEAWD! people spend millions of dollars on saving the lives of retards, and why. I don't buy that shit like "oh hes my son though!" so the fuck what, he aint normal, kill him, put him out his misery. he is only a waste of time and money, then people say "But he is worth the time, he is human too" no he isnt, if he was then he would swalow a bullet cause he would realize what a fucking waste and burden he was. -- Eric Harris's Journal 4/10/98
Isnt america supposed to be the land of the free? how come, If im free, I cant deprive a stupid fucking dumbshit from his possessions If he leaves then sitting in the front seat of his fucking van out in plain sight and in the middle fucking nowhere on a Fri fucking day night. NATURAL SELECTION. Ibid. -- 4/12/98
Harris was wearing a white T-shirt with the words "Natural Selection'' on the front, black combat boots and a black glove on his right hand with the "fingers cut away.''Denver Post on the release of the coroners report on Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
I chose that Darwin quote out of many others amounting to the same thing because it's possible it was as much as someone like Harris understands about natural selection. It certainly would seem to be what even college credentialed comment tread commentators understand about it and its role in the human species. People dying and getting killed. That's what Darwin said it was about, confirmed by his most scientifically qualified successors, people such as Galton, Haeckel, Huxley, Karl Pearson.... Eric Harris just put the same thing in cruder language. If anyone but the sacred Darwin had said it they would be considered a Nazi.
It wasn't reading that Eric Harris's psychopathological thinking was inspired by the idea of natural selection that led me to doubt it was anything but a British aristocrat's imposition of the homicidal British class system on nature, though it should have led me to wonder about it. When you read the statements of Darwin, including the idea of huge numbers, the disabled, the poor, many races and ethnic groups being murdered through natural selection and that the results would be good for the survivors, it's really just what Harris said in academic and scientific language. If you google "Eric Harris shirt," you can find shirts saying "Natural Selection" on sale to their fans, even today.
Hey, as far as I'm concerned Duncan Black is the man who has let Steve Simels peddle the lie that I'm an anti-Semite for more than five years, as far as I'm concerned, he's become the kind of thing Media Whores Online targeted only on a tiny scale. He's aging shit in a grey pullover.
I don't care what Duncan's blog rats say about anything. They spew old, worn out, predigested attitudes, they never challenge their prejudices or assertions they took on in conformity to the milieu they chose to be a part of, some as long as a half century ago. They never test their ideas. They're just a different flavor of bigots, they're the failed past that pissed away the progress made by real radicals like Diane Nash, the Reverend Martin Luther King jr. and so many others. As people wedded to the millstone that sank the left, they're less than undeserving of attention. As persistent and insistent agents of futility, they are best ignored. Insisting on doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. Nothing will ever come out of that but more failure.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Malcolm Sargent, conductor
Vaughan William's last symphony, completed shortly before his sudden death. Not bad for an 85 year old man. It's a work of someone in full control of musical materials, especially the very large orchestra he chose to write it for.
I was dared to post something by RVW. Why the dare? No idea.
The claim is made that the infamously proto-Nazi assertion of Darwinism by Darwinism's foremost proponent in Germany, Ernst Haeckel, is a complete distortion of the theory of Charles Darwin and its consequences for the world and, most relevantly to my posts on it, human, their societies and their countries. That claim is obviously a lie, it can be known to be a lie because Charles Darwin endorsed Ernst Haeckel's interpretation of his theory of Natural Selection and common ancestry* in letters written to him in the 1860s and, in fact, for the rest of Charles Darwin's life, his son Francis attests to the agreement of his father and Haeckel on these things from his first person witness accounts of Haeckel's visits with his father, and, most of all, Darwin's citations of Haeckel, especially his glowing, complete endorsement of one of his most extreme, racist and homicidal volume published during Darwin's life, Haeckel's The History of Creation.
That he agreed with Haeckel' social Darwinism is also known by the letter Darwin wrote to Haeckel on reading what was Haeckel's most overt statement of that published during Darwin's life, His "Freedom in Teaching and Science," in which Haeckel said that Darwinism didn't support socialism or democracy but supported the inequality of an aristocratic system. His idea of such a Darwinian aristocracy included those he regarded as superior murdering huge numbers of those he regarded as inferior, that's something he had asserted in his scientific books and would, in fact, continue to assert during the rest of his life, ending the very year Nazism was first organized 1919. That is especially true of what was probably his best seller, The Riddle of the Universe, which went through many editions in German during the formative years of the boys and girls who would become the Nazi leadership and the true believers in it. Of that book, the scholar of the rise of Nazism, Daniel Gasman said:
The common understanding among historians about the connection between Haeckel and Hitler is this: Adolf Hitler (b. 1889) came of age during the decade and a half following the publication in 1899 of Ernst Haeckel’s Riddle of the Universe, a runaway best seller that over the next two or three decades sold more copies internationally than the Bible and profoundly shaped the consciousness of the modern world. Haeckel’s book imparted a rigid Social Darwinist message purportedly derived from science: politics is applied biology, the Jews were an inferior race compared with the Aryans, Christianity was a religion of weakness, and that eugenic action was necessary to protect the racial composition of society.
That reading of Haeckel will be confirmed by that rarest of events in the life of any true-believing Darwinist, honestly reading Darwin and those people he cites, especially Haeckel. Though Darwin was reluctant to be specific about which races he believed were bound for extinction, though he named a number of smaller groups in the South Pacific and a few others, Haeckel, in books Darwin promoted as reliable science, was not so shy about starting an extermination list.
For anyone, especially today, who wants to deny that Haeckel's thinking was genuinely Darwinian, he could, if he were still around, point to numerous letters from Charles Darwin endorsing his excellence in articulating Darwin's theories, praise for his boldness and appreciation for the promotion of Haeckel of Darwin's theories in Germany. He could also cite Darwin's second in command, Thomas Huxley naming him the "chorus leader" of Darwinism on the Continent and, as mentioned, Francis Darwin's first hand testimony about his father's agreement with Haeckel. No one today has the authority to deny that all of the evidence, up to and including Charles Darwin's own assertions, is that he accepted Haeckel's view of Darwinism and his assertion of its logical consequences for human, individually, in societies and between racial groupings, including that it was supportive of salubrious and progressive violent struggle, murder and genocides.
I, from time to time, look closer at the English language and German phenomenon of Darwinism and, over and over again, find confirmation of that characteristic of it, producing ideas and theories and ideological assertions that produced anti-democratic movements and, yes, Nazism. When I started writing on this nine years ago, I was hesitant to make that connection but every year since then has only confirmed that connection and that it is obvious.
Note: I think Robert J. Richards attempt to rehabilitate Haeckel so as to exonerate Darwin is one of the most blatantly dishonest things I've ever looked into. It is blown up by doing what I've always advocated, reading the primary documentation and looking up the primary documents cited in those. I think it is truly stunning that someone who has done what he has is accepted as a legitimate scholar, who can work at a major university. While I think Gasman was too reluctant or unwilling to note that Darwin endorsed pretty much everything Haeckel said up to the time of his death - and, in fact, most of the worst things he said he'd already said in one form or another by that time - his take down of Richards is quite convincing.
* I believe in the latter, with the caveat that the ultimate nature of that is unknowable for the earliest life on Earth, I have become ever more skeptical of the former.
Update: Unlike you, unlike Robert Richards, unlike all of Darwin's post-war hagiographers who want to disassociate them, Ernst Haeckel knew Darwin, met him, conversed with him, first-hand as Darwin's honored guest at his home, he corresponded with Darwin and had letters from him endorsing his understanding and articulation of Darwin's theories and ideas. He had the confirmation of his understanding of that from Darwin's closest British colleagues and, in fact, Darwin's children, as well.
Your claims in that matter, separating Haeckel and Darwin and, in fact, even Daniel Gasman's has to give way to the superior claims that Haeckel could make in that regard. Richards is right in so far as he associates Haeckel and Darwin, he is not merely wrong but dishonest in asserting that both men didn't assert some of the most putrid of racist, elitist and violent assertions ever to be taken up as legitimate science and acted on politically and legally by politicians and jurists and military figures on the strength of those ideas identification as having the reliability of scientific knowledge. That couldn't possibly be clearer from reading the primary documentary evidence.
I know, I promised I'd get back to stand-alone plays this week but people liked the two series I posted the past two weeks so here's a short one. It's a bunch of old farts of a literary sort who have solitary work and who meet to try to maintain a connection with the world. It's pretty good, going past a scenario that could turn really quaint and cosy but which turned out to be better than that. It's by New Zealand's most successful living playwright.
Roger Hall (1939 –), New Zealand's most successful playwright, Roger Hall was born in Essex and moved to New Zealand in 1958. As well as stage plays, Roger has also written scripts for radio and television, and for children. His writing is known for its comedy, political and social purpose, and underlying pathos. His plays have toured widely and have been performed at international venues. His biggest success was with Middle Age Spread that ran for 18 months in London's West End and won the award for Comedy of the Year (1979). Hall has been the recipient of awards and fellowships in recognition of his work. Book Ends was first performed at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre in 2014.
I am aware of Robert Bannister's revisionist and seriously wrong idea that Darwinism and social Darwinism are not equivalent and claiming that Darwin and his closest associates were not racists. I think one of the problems is that the old regime of pre-internet scholarship which could more easily assert an ideological agenda as scholarship is running into the problem of primary documentation that gives away their game being freely available and easily found. The post-war revisionist Charles Darwin is a construct that depended on the unavailability and even obscurity of that documentation but that's over and done with.
The first idea is, as I have had to point out over and over again, not only contradicted by no one less than Charles Darwin, himself, when he explicitly said, in HIS 5th edition of On the Origin of Species he said that Natural Selection was the same thing as Survival of the Fittest and that he repeatedly asserted that natural selection was at work in human societies and in human institutions in The Descent of Man and in his correspondence, going so far as to express opposition to such ideas as equal pay and organized labor as a hindrance of his struggle for existence. That is enough to dispel anything claiming otherwise. His racism is also on full display all through The Descent of Man and in his correspondence, any claims to the contrary by any scholar of the subject is, in my opinion, a discreditable distortion for clearly ideological purposes. The example you sent me, of Bannister claiming that the infamously racist essay of Thomas Huxley was not racist is absurd and clearly obvious to anyone who read it.
Not only that but it is also disconfirmed in the understanding of Darwin's closest colleagues, his children and in other people who knew the man as well as the next several generations of Darwinists who never knew him but certainly knew his work, it is also disconfirmed by many of his critics who, as well, perhaps even more so, did a close reading of his scientific writing and his other written legacy. It is certainly disproved in the Darwinian character of eugenics, something whose origin in Galton's and Schallmeyer's reading of On the Origin of Species we know, beyond question, by their own assertions and that Darwin agreed with eugenics by his own written approval sent to Galton on the publication of Hereditary Genius and his citations in The Descent of Man praising that work, the two articles in Macmillan's Magazine which Galton marked as his first eugenics publication as reliable science in The Descent of Man. From Francis Darwin, Charles' son and the first collector of his correspondence, we have confirmation that he supported George Darwin's very early eugenics proposals published in a magazine article calling for the legal dissolution of marriages - even against the will of those so married - in the event of a mental illness in one of the partners, even if such a person were held to have recovered from it. We also have Leonard Darwin's assertions that his eugenics activity was something his father would have approved of and that he was continuing his father's work in it.
Bannister can claim many things, as any present day scholar can, he and they can't, however, claim to have superior knowledge of what Charles Darwin thought as compared to people who knew him intimately, even his own children. Nothing he claims can reasonably be said to overturn what they said, nothing short of Charles Darwin, himself, contradicting their claims, in writing. That record will stand as long as the book and articles and letters written by Charles Darwin, Galton, Haeckel, Huxley, Francis, George and Leonard Darwin, etc. exist. And all of that evidence is fully available now, online, where it can be known through a fairly simple online search.
The cover up of Darwinism's relation with eugenics, scientific racism and social Darwinism that was mounted by academics in the wake of the reaction against crimes of the Nazis and English speaking eugenicists is over, for good. You don't have to "cherry pick" or "quote mine" or depend on secondary sources and tertiary and lower junk to make that case, it is best made by a full reading of the original source material which is almost all available online. The pre-internet cover-up of that kind is over in so far as anyone wants to honestly know the truth about it.
Again, as I have said recently, I could fill this short piece with citations and links so that virtually every word of it would how up red on my blog. Perhaps it's time for me to do another comprehensive index of the pieces I've written on this topic, each of them with citations and links to primary documentation of what I said, but there are so many of them. I'm absolutely certain on this, you can be when you find the exact word confirming that in Darwin's own writing and that of those he cited as having the reliability of science.
The "Theme of Thomas Tallis" which Ralph Vaughn Williams wrote his fantasia on, originally one of nine 4-voice pieces Tallis wrote to be sung to metrical paraphrases of the psalms in Archbishop Parker's Psalter. The same setting could be used for any text that shared the same metrical structure. This one is notable for being in the third, of Phrygian mode which, in my analysis, gives it the distinctive feel it has and which gives it both a definite feeling of non-repose and harmonic motion, even though the actual melody dwells and lingers on the fifth degree, a feeling of active not altogether easy meditation. Though Tallis, like William Byrd, remained a faithful Catholic for the entire period of the Tudor persecution of Catholicism, he also wrote music used by the Protestant establishment. Williams included it in the Anglican song book that he edited in 1906 set to a much later hymn by John Addison, as well as his Fantasia.
For even the most hardened atheist and anti-Christian and, perhaps most resistant of all, liberalish member of the First Church of the Brunch* one prophesy in the Bible is on full display, in real life, in the clearest of terms, manifesting in the world, starting today.
For most of my life I've considered the last book of the Christian Bible, what we called The Apocalypse, what most Protestants call Revelations, to have been a big mistake. The often misunderstood, easily and often sensationalized vision of some guy named John, is among the most abused books in the collection. When I was young I thought it was just silly to believe in it, that is at the childish and historically and literarily ignorant hermeneutic of believing it was to be taken as literally true, a literal prophesy of things that were to come. But those habits of reading, which modern atheism holds in common with modern Biblical fundamentalism aren't the terms under which it was brought into the cannon of Biblical scriptures, it was brought in because it was understood that the book was not literally describing future events but it was a poetic description of how disaster would come, a description, in figures, illusions, symbols, numerological implication, etc. of any enormous disaster, even ultimate, cataclysmic environmental destruction on top of horrendous violence, oppression, moral decay and mass slaughter on a, well, these days the journalists like to say, "Biblical scale".
But it was during the 2010 BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico that, hearing the description and seeing the aerial footage of the oil pollution that my thoughts went to the passage that says,
The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died. (16:3)
though that wasn't the first thing that led me to think maybe the author was on to something, it was witnessing the degenerate association of Christianity, of Jesus, with the corporate-Republican agenda that had co-opted the Biblical fundamentalists, integralist Catholics and others who, together with their other political allies made a pretty convincing anti-Christ.
The "Values" Voters Summit, who turn hate and depravity and injustice and inequality into a perversion of "values" is a particularly evil hate group, well connected, well financed, and powerful, perverting the name and superficial trappings of Christianity to pretty much try to do the evil work of destroying any progress made to make The Gospel, the Law and the Prophets real in law and in life in the United States. It is addressed by a whole host of people who could either stand in for or easily represent figures in the Book of Revelation as a manifestation of evil, using lies and deception and superficial appearance to sucker the gullible, the foolish and, most of all, those whose own moral failings make them easy prey for Satan or The God of the World or any of the other names given to evil and its emanations in the book. In that reading of the Apocalypse or The Revelation, I believe completely because I see it unfolding before our eyes and have seen it unfolding my whole life and in recent history.
It is unfortunate that, with our modern and simplistic expectations of literal truth that the poetic language of the author and the seemingly bizarre and easily and facilely ridiculed aspects in those do more to blind people to the truth behind them than to inform them. The condemnation of wealth and its accumulation - often expressed in the contemporary equivalent of our billionaire class, kings, emperors and other rulers - and the moral degeneracy and disaster that they promote and practice couldn't possibly be clearer, once you get past the language of dragons with stars on their heads. Though that can be useful, too. If Putin is taken to equal "Babylon" Trump would certainly be a good candidate to be his whore, or, in contemporary terms, "his bitch". I think once you take it on its own terms and see it as a general analysis of what happens when great fortunes rule the world instead of a one-off event in the extended future, there's an enormous amount to learn from it. John could have written it as a political science or sociological treatise instead of giving it a poetic treatment but, really, who would read it now except for old farts writing papers in little read journals?
For the record, I don't think a single person who is going to address that coven of anti-Christians really believes in anything they're going to say, they're either trying to rope in the dopes like a carny huckster or they're going through the motions for their patrons. The whole thing is an exercise in lies on behalf the father of lies, as Jesus, recorded by another John said:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
I've come to understand a lot more about that most troublesome of the Gospels, too, looking at the signs of the times and to appreciate much that is found in it.
* The estimable Garrison Keillor's phrase is perfect. That sort of nominal Christianity, in its easy-going liberal wing, is not enough to fight against real evil. It's to busy with keeping up buildings, salaries, etc. It can, at its worst, be sort of like Trump during the campaign going back to the Presbyterian church where he made a pro-forma profession of faith in his youth but, it having since become a majority minority congregation, he had to ask the pastor if Presbyterians were Christians during the campaign.
I can't agree with Charles Pierce that having Obama "joining the resistance full time" would be a good thing, if that were going to help then why didn't it during the eight years he held actual power? In his piece, yesterday, Pierce noted that Barack Obama, instead of being engaged in full time efforts to resist the destruction of American democracy and the world has been engaged in socializing with the A+++ list of celebrities and giving $400,000 speeches to bankers and the such, which, given his presidency which never challenged the utra-rich and ultra-powerful at any basic level should surprise no one. It's what a golden-boy preppy-Ivy leaguer who became and remained president for two term could be expected to do, that is the dominant culture of his class. I was really disturbed earlier in the year reading that his idea of resistance was unleashing the Wall Street lap dog, Eric Holder. To be fair, I was just as skeptical about the idea of Bill Clinton being any kind of effective opponent of George W. Bush. While I wouldn't say that Barack Obama is someone I would like to never hear from again, something I have said about Bill, though not Hillary Clinton, I can't see him as being any more effective in opposing what, out of power, he did little to nothing to fight against while in power.
No, I think any leadership in opposition to Trump has to come from someone who isn't a member of the elite which has never been an effective opponent of that kind of thing. I suspect the set of all former elite law school grad and faculty such that they might be effective in leadership in opposition to Republican-fascism might be pretty much limited to one member, Elizabeth Warren. And the null set, but that's just a formality of set theory.
Obama is a figure of the past, a great campaigner, while he was running for office but one who I heard many down ballot politicians complain about being unwilling to help them with resources or even lists. In office he did a good job of setting low bars, achieving easy wins, being unwilling to play political hard ball for even his own signature agenda items, more interested in courting Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and making nice with Republicans who regularly spat in his face than even trying to get the votes from stray members of his own party in the Congress. By comparison with Trump, I certainly miss him, as the leader of the Democratic Party I see what he squandered and gave away. If he and Holder had held the wall street crooks accountable, if he had pursued a full and extensive economic recovery instead of giving away huge chunks for the non-support of Snowe and Collins, if he had put the screws to conservative Democrats and passed a really great healthcare bill which would be more resistant to sabotage, we wouldn't be where we are right now.
So, please, Barack Obama, don't try to do now what you refused to do then. Obama's big mistake wasn't what Charles Pierce noted, giving the country absolution without penance, though that is a good idea, too, it is that he decided to play statesman while he was holding a political office during a time when statesmanship was never going to work. I always said I'd give him 2009 before I gave up hope. That was a long, long time ago and hope deferred evaporates.
I have decided to get back to posting lectures, sermons, interviews on a more regular basis. This is one given by Walter Brueggemann which I listened to recently while doing some otherwise boring chore. I've listened to it several more times. While listening the first couple of times, I was impressed with the expansive interpretation that Brueggemann gave to what is implied in those troublesome, often exclusively interpreted texts where Jesus said no one came to God except through him, and which have been abused so often to say that no one but a small circle of believers were eternally damned. His association of Jesus as conceived of as The Logos in John with Wisdom in Proverbs Chapter 8 and the association of Jesus with the justice and mercy and compassion that Wisdom created as fundamental attributes of the universe and that THAT is what we have to conform ourselves and our lives to or there will be disaster is the first time I've ever felt entirely comfortable with the idea. NOT that Brueggemann's interpretation is more comfortable or easy or untroubling than the tradition that interprets that as being baptized and claiming that you're a Christian. It's not easier, it's to throw yourself against the machine of the powerful, the rich, governments, societies that oppose those, "the world of power" which Brueggemann says, so well, "is dedicated to phoniness". By the time he gets to the part about Jesus saying "it's all mine" and that he will give it all to us, Brueggemann associates that distribution with conformity to justice, compassion, generosity.
Particularly worth noticing is what he says about the folly of that American, modernist virtue "self sufficiency" and how destructive and stupid that ultimately is.
Here's the talk, I'll probably transcribe parts of it to discuss some ideas in it later, when I'm not feeling so exhausted.
It happened that just the other day I listened to another lecture session that was much longer, William Lane Craig on "God and the Platonic Host" which got into the concept of The Logos and much more, in which Craig talked at length about his years long philosophical study of the nature of abstract objects and the aseity of God, which is extremely interesting and pretty convincing on an intellectual level but, much as I appreciated what Craig was saying I didn't find nearly as useful.
Both of these did leave me more convinced than ever that materialism, scientism and atheism are symptoms of intellectual vacuity and the dumbing down of intellectualism. I have some profound disagreements with William Lane Craig about specific things but he is intellectually heads and shoulders above the atheist competition in the realm of ideas. To a large extent that could be the result of most of his debate opponents being trained in some narrow aspect of the sciences and so-called sciences, relieved of any in depth knowledge of even the areas of philosophy that deal with logical argument. As I pointed out not long ago, when he has an argument with another philosopher I've found the atheist was far less prone to arrogantly make an ass of himself, maybe unknown to his own audience but obvious to anyone who has read much philosophy or dealt in rigorous self-criticism of thier own thinking. I specifically wouldn't include someone like Daniel Dennett or John Shook in that category, I think that Shook in particular is someone who should never have been given an undergraduate degree in philosophy, nevermind a PhD. I have to confess that I've come to be skeptical of anyone who has a philosophy degree from the University of Buffalo.